How to avoid scams when donating to Ukraine relief efforts

Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 9:57 AM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - In wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many Americans are seeking to provide assistance to those impacted by the conflict.

However, as is the case with all donations, the public is encouraged to be cautious with their money to avoid potential scammers.

The Cleveland-area Better Business Bureau has provided the following tips for those considering a donation:

  • Verify a charity’s trustworthiness by viewing an report from BBB Wise Giving Alliance
  • See if the charity already has a presence in Ukraine or nearby countries to provide relief quickly.
  • Local drives to collect clothing and food to send overseas may not be practical. Logistics and timing to deliver and disperse such items will be challenging.
  • Experienced disaster relief charities are the best choice to help deliver aid as soon as possible. Newer charities may have difficulty in following through even if they have the best of intentions.
  • If engaging in crowdfunding, it is safest to give to someone you know and trust and review the platform’s policies regarding fees and distribution of collected funds. Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals or organizations that decide to post for relief assistance.
  • All charities have fundraising and administrative expenses. Any charity claiming that “100% will be spent on relief” is potentially misleading the donating public. Even a credit card donation will have a processing fee.

Ericka Dilworth of the BBB wants you to do your homework before reaching for your wallet.

“Be careful. It’s absolutely fantastic that you want to help in any way that you can,” she said.

Michael Hontaruk, assistant pastor at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, is one of those people who are directly impacted by the current crisis.

“I have two sisters in Ukraine,” he said. “So far they are safe, but still they are afraid.”

Hontaruk has a special message for anyone who might try to take advantage of others: “Don’t do any scams or something like that, because this is not what God called us to do.”

Worried you’re the victim of a scam? Click here to report it to the BBB.

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